Packaging for Aseptic Processing
The most important point to remember is that it must be sterile! All handling of product post-process must be within the sterile environment.
There are 5 basic types of aseptic packaging lines:
- Fill and seal: preformed containers made of thermoformed plastic, glass or metal are sterilized, filled in aseptic environment, and sealed
- Form, fill and seal: roll of material is sterilized, formed in sterile environment, filled, sealed e.g. tetrapak
- Erect, fill and seal: using knocked-down blanks, erected, sterilized, filled, sealed. e.g. gable-top cartons, cambri-bloc
- Thermoform, fill, sealed roll stock sterilized, thermoformed, filled, sealed aseptically. e.g. creamers, plastic soup cans
- Blow mold, fill, seal:
There are several different package forms that are used in aseptic UHT processing:
- paperboard/plastic/foil/plastic laminates
- flexible pouches
- thermoformed plastic containers
- flow molded containers
- bulk totes
It is also worth mentioning that many products that are UHT heat treated are not aseptically packaged. This gives them the advantage of a longer shelf life at refrigeration temperatures compared to pasteurization, but it does not produce a shelf-stable product at ambient temperatures, due to the possibility of recontamination post-processing.